Continuing the discussion from POLL - Preferred central midfield without Santi:
I really hate to have been right on this count, but I think I was. Two months on, and a Santi-less midfield only managed drab draws against Tottenham and United, lost at Goodison, struggled to hold the ball for more than a few seconds in the second half at the Etihad, and wilted against Watford at home. I’m not saying these absences are completely down to the absence of one player, but I think there can be little doubt that the unparalleled technique, intelligence, vision, and creativity that Cazorla brought to our midfield would probably have resulted in a larger points haul over the period he’s been out. In addition, there doesn’t seem to be any other midfielder capable of keeping the ball and wriggling out of tight spaces when the opposition are pressing in a way that relives pressure.
With Santi appearing increasingly injury prone and pushing into his 30s, I think its’ time we found a steady replacement for him. I’m all for offering him another contract, but he should no longer be thought of as the default option. We need someone to replace at least some of his very special attributes. Could Wilshere fill in that void? He is very capable of running with the ball, but will he be able to show the same maturity that Cazorla plays with? Do we need to look outside? What are our options.